Responsive web design enables a business to have one site that reformats itself for optimal display on the type of device viewing it. In the past, a traditional website was fixed. This meant that if the user was using a desktop computer, three different columns could be seen clearly. However, when the same website was viewed through a smaller device such as a tablet or a smart phone, the user would have to scroll horizontally to view all of the information. This led to an altogether unsatisfying experience – the page was often distorted with some items being completely hidden from view.
Responsive Web Design
This issue was compounded due to the fact that smartphones and tablets would often turn sideways to view sites in landscape mode. Before site responsiveness became more common, this would lead to a broken display that the designer had not intended. Some smartphones have very small screens which made the website even more difficult to see. The page’s images often would break the layout and, if particularly graphic-intensive, would load very slowly.
Responsive design enables a site to dynamically adjust its own elements to be readable on all different screen sizes. This makes the content easy to read and navigate. Three columns may appear as only one or two columns on a smaller device. To accommodate smaller viewing areas, a responsive site will often break a table element into a single column to be viewed linearly. Additionally, Instead of being cut off or becoming distorted, images will automatically resize. Horizontal navigation menus automatically become dynamic mobile menus which can be hidden from view to make the text more readable.
When it comes to optimizing sites for the search engines, responsive web design is crucial. More so than ever before, the user experience has become pivotal to achieving Google ranking goals. Google’s algorithm has methods for detecting how long users spent on a web page before exiting; this “bounce rate” is weighed as a factor in determining page rankings. Now that most of the traffic on the web is mobile device traffic, it is actually more important that a site looks good on these devices as opposed to desktop browsers.
Web developers make use of tools to constantly check that their sites are formatting well across devices. One straightforward way is simply to have a computer, tablet and smartphone at their disposal that they are opening the site on periodically; responsive web design has become somewhat of an art – frustrating and rewarding for the developer both at once. Introducing the element of various devices means the variables that could break a site increase. Fixing something on one end just to have it break on another is a bit like solving a Rubik’s cube!
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